The much-acclaimed HomePod could be getting an LCD screen upgrade, if rumours swirling online are to be believed. According to a report from 9to5mac, an Apple collector has shared images online showing components from an unreleased HomePod prototype which included a large, fully functional touchscreen at the top of the unit.
This doesn't appear to be a failed or discarded experiment, either, with 9to5mac asserting that Apple is actively working on this LCD model, codenamed B720, with the possible intention of bringing it to market sometime in the future.
The same source claims that Apple's current tvOS 17 code, used for Apple Music and Apple Podcasts, are being rewritten so that they will be fully compatible with a new format to be used on the HomePod's new LCD display. This, it is said, will be controlled by an internal app which can scroll through functions including audio playback, home controls and taking phone calls.
This all seems like Apple endeavouring to emulate Amazon's attempts at integrating screens into its popular Echo line of smart speakers, especially now Amazon has recently announced the arrival of the Echo Show 8 with a reimagined design, a better camera and even support for spatial audio.
It's not a decision (if it ever materialises), however, that has received universal excitement. Some online critics and commentators immediately voiced concerns that if the screen were displayed on top of the unit, as it appears to be on the marketing image provided, it would mean users would constantly have to lean over the HomePod in order to see the information displayed. Others wonder why a voice-activated speaker needs a screen in the first place.
What is not clear is whether this new LCD model would be its own separate line (the HomePod Screen for instance), or indeed whether it could act as an extension /development to either, or both, the main HomePod series and /or the HomePod Mini.
A screen on the circular Mini seems unlikely, and the prototype images seem to indicate that the LCD surface appears atop the more substantial second-generation HomePod unit, so a screen-boosted Mini model might not be forthcoming. The current HomePod (2nd gen) already features a glass top interface that shows a colourful swirling pattern when Siri is interacted with, so replacing it with a full-blown LCD screen might not be such a ridiculous idea.
Either way, a small screen displaying key information about the HomePod itself and its key functions (weather, Siri responses, incoming calls etc.) could be a big boost to what is already a five-star Award-winning product. If Apple were to make this prototype a reality, we would be fascinated to see if it takes the excellent HomePod smart speaker to the next level.
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